Viewing Issue Advanced Details
ID Category [?] Severity [?] Reproducibility Date Submitted Last Update
06987 Known Issues/To-Do's Minor Always May 29, 2018, 20:50 May 3, 2019, 17:07
Tester ballyalley View Status Public Platform MAME (Official Binary)
Assigned To Resolution Open OS Windows Vista/7/8 (64-bit)
Status [?] Acknowledged Driver
Version 0.197 Fixed in Version Build
Fixed in Git Commit Github Pull Request #
Summary MESS-specific 06987: astrocde and clones: [Enhancement] Best Way to Report Missing Vital Features?
Description The Astrocade emulation in MAME is missing several vital features. While the emulation does support the cartridges, it doesn't support many other standard features. The following is a list of features which are missing:

I) Tape Input I/O - Hundreds of programs for the Astrocade were released on tape. Many of these are available from in WAV format. There is no way to load these into the Astrocade emulator. There are three kinds of tape I/O that needs to be added to the emulator.

1) 2000-baud Tape I/O via the re-release of the Bally BASIC cartridge. The version of BASIC with the built-in 2000-baud interface is commonly called "AstroBASIC."

2) 300-Baud Tape Interface - The original Bally BASIC cartridge used tape I/O with an external 300-baud tape interface that plugged into hand controller port 3 and the light pen port. The tape system used KCS (Kansas City Standard).

3) 2000-baud Tape I/O via the Blue Ram expansion - The Blue Ram unit, an expansion that plugged into the 50-pin edge connector on the back of the Astrocade, had it's own 2000-baud interface which used a National Semiconductor INS8154 RAM I/O chip. Expansion RAM is supported by the Astrocade emulator, but the Blue Ram's I/O isn't supported at all.

II) Common Features that are missing from Astrocade Emulation

1) Hot-Swap Cartridge Port - The Astrocade supports hot-swapping cartridges (changing cartridges without turning off the system). This may seem like a useless feature under emulation (why not just turn the system on and off?), but hot-swapping cartridges is used by many later programs to exchange data. For instance, some BASIC tapes were converted to "load" from cartridge, but in order to make this work, first the game/program was inserted, then the BASIC cartridge was hot-swapped into its place.

2) External Printer (using hacked 300-baud Interface) - Bally BASIC supported printing via the 300-baud interface if it was hacked to support a serial printer.

III) Blue Ram I/O - Support for keyboard and printer is not available

1) External Keyboard - The Blue Ram's I/O allowed for an external 63-key ASCII keyboard to be used with the system. This allowed a user to not have to use the 24-key keypad on the Astrocade.

2) External Printer (using The Blue Ram's I/O) - The Blue Ram allowed machine language and BASIC programs to be printed.
Steps To Reproduce All of these features are missing.
Additional Information
Github Commit
Regression Version
Affected Sets / Systems astrocde and clones
Attached Files
parent of 07072ResolvedRyan Holtz  astrocde and clones: [Enhancement] 2000-Baud "AstroBASIC" Tape I/O Support Missing 
User avatar
May 30, 2018, 02:18
Thanks for making this list of missing functionality. Since you're clearly more familiar with the system that anyone currently on the MAME team, we eagerly await your pull request(s) implementing this much-needed and long-overdue functionality.
User avatar
Senior Tester
Apr 10, 2019, 22:47
Which issues are still outstanding?
User avatar
May 3, 2019, 17:07
Some missing features, such as the 300-baud tape interface, are detailed in the "Astrocade Tape Support," here:

Specifically, these three missing features:

1) Astrocade Colors in MAME require fixing
2) Interrupts
3) Viper keyboard

are mentioned here:

Some other core missing features:

4) Cartridge hot swapping
5) Music Maker cart tape interface

other, probably not feasible, features to add:

6) Modem
7) Light Pen
8) Computer Ear (voice recognition)

are detailed here:

Of course, I'd love to see support for the Blue Ram keyboard.